Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Take a lesson from the ground (I through IV)
A series of four inkjet prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm, with watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm traditional white hot-press paper
Created for The Confessional
1st November – 2nd December, 2017
Mailbox Art Space
141–143 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
I tell my secret? No indeed, not I:
Perhaps some day, who knows?
Christina Rossetti’s sleight-of-hand secret[i] enfolded itself in “a shawl; a veil, a cloak, and other wraps”, and would not open “to everyone who tap[ped]”. And behind the glass doors of Mailbox Art Space, we have posted the heart in hiding, two-times twice. Peer and peck at the glass, to see something akin to true nature. In our masked environments, “suppose there is no secret after all.” Just you and me, leaving quiet footsteps.
[i] Christina Rossetti composed Winter: My Secret in 1857, and it was published in her first volume of poetry, Goblin Market and Other Poems, in 1862.
Ten years ago — I confess, it was that long ago — Louise and I exhibited work at Mailbox Art Space (then known as Mailbox 141). We posted watercolour drawings and postcard collages in what we hoped appeared as a just-delivered tumble, though in truth it was quietly orchestrated, piece by piece. We shared photos of the work as it was being made (Louise on elsewhere, and me, High Up in the Trees), and blogged about the installation process, and the core of this still remains. Today, I post here, and our days unfurl and our nights roost on instagram. Our desire to share has not wavered. And the postcard collage, I still don't trust them (2007), exhibited as part of If we stand very still, no one will notice is our instagram profile picture to this day.
I confess, though I love to archive, I don't like looking at the past.
Let's move forward. Quickly now. Careful, mind.
Half of a friendship necklace, a childhood medal, a wedding band, a letter sealed and never read. A confession, a secret, a gift, what lies hidden behind these everyday objects now embedded with symbolic meaning? The Confessional seeks to examine the relationship between the confession and the confessional, and how objects intimate to an individual can encompass collective resonance and memories. Situated within a series of mailboxes, the exhibition space is designed to keep communication spaces private and separate, and yet when illuminated, also makes this personal communication visible and public. Visitors will be invited to actively peer in to examine the artist’s intimate confession that will in turn lead them to confront their own secrets, fears, disappointments and longing.
Though I am perhaps in danger of stepping twice on the same path, repeating my words as well as my actions, Louise and I still love sharing the making of our work. It can be what helps us to see. It enables refinement, in a sense, that point of remove. It is enjoyable. The seaweed didn't grow in the formation it appears in now, it was sculpted so. The seaweed was one large drawing, and the tall collages, they were initially squat. And a sizable portion of this, we have placed on the table for you to see. In good company.
Image credit: Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, Take a lesson from the ground (III) (detail), 2017, inkjet print